RNC Spanish-language Ad Targeting Vulnerable Senate Dems in 4 Battleground States

The Republican National Committee (RNC) unveiled a Spanish-language ad in four battleground states Friday, targeting Senate Democrats who are perceived to be vulnerable on the economy.

The Spanish-language ad, running in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, focuses on Hispanics and Latinos achieving their version of the American dream, despite the current wave of Democrat leaders allowing “the hope for a better life to become a relic of the past.”

“Under [President Joe] Biden and Democrat control, the American dream is slipping away for many. From skyrocketing prices to surging crime to the disastrous border crisis, Democrats have failed the Hispanic community,” said RNC Communications Director Danielle Alvarez.

She added, “While Democrats focus on winning the ‘Latinx’ vote, Republicans are on the ground talking about the issues that matter and winning the Latino vote. This November, Hispanics will choose Republican leadership that shares our values of economic opportunity, freedom, and security.”

Alvarez’s reference to “Latinx” pokes fun at the Democrats for publicly using that term when addressing Hispanics and Latinos for more than a year, before polling revealed that only 2% of the Latino population acknowledges the moniker.

And perhaps worse, a majority of Latinos found “Latinx” to be offensive, or politically patronizing.

The four Democrats being targeted in the new ad: Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and current Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who’s up against GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Keystone State’s general election.

Historically speaking, the economy and generational wealth have been top-of-mind issues with Hispanic and Latino voters in the United States, according to The Hill.

And Republicans have been actively targeting the votes for both communities, says Alvarez.

Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, who recently became the first Republican in 150-plus years to win the Rio Grande Valley congressional district, says Latinos and Hispanics are embracing the Republicans’ America First agenda.

The Hispanic community is “pro-God, pro-life, pro-family, [and] all about hard work,” when Democrats increasingly aren’t, Flores recently said on Newsmax.

“My father sees that the Democrat Party walked away from him,” says Flores, who was born in Mexico before immigrating to the U.S. at age six.

“He sees that the party has gone so far left. They’re focused on nonsense like ‘Latinx,’ you know they’re focused on … pronouns, and not the real issues that are affecting real people here in South Texas and honestly throughout the country.”


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Consumers’ Outlook on US Economy Getting Worse, Amid Shaky Economic Data

U.S. consumers were dealt a flurry of sluggish economic data Tuesday, both hard and anecdotal, suggesting that a tangible recovery might not be on the horizon.

For starters, a Gallup Poll for June revealed that two-thirds of respondents (67%) say escalating gas prices are causing moderate to severe financial hardship in their own households.

That’s up a staggering 15 percentage points from an April survey featuring a similar question.

More than 60% of respondents said they are driving less this summer because of higher prices, a higher percentage than in previous years of significant gas price increases — namely 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2018. 

Second, Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index — a summary of participants’ ratings of current economic conditions and outlook — has tumbled 13 points from last month to minus 58. 

The index ranges from 100, if all respondents describe the economy positively, to minus 100, if all respondents describe the economy negatively. 

The ECI’s current score has reportedly reached its lowest point since February 2009, when the country was in a recession. 

Third, in the past month, citing ECI history, the percentage of Americans surveyed calling the economy “poor” jumped 8 points to 54%, and the percentage of those asserting the economy’s “getting worse” rose 7 points to 85%. 

Finally, the average national price of regular unleaded gasoline stands at $4.88 per gallon, according to AAA

The high averages run similar to numbers produced from GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices worldwide.

Right now, 11 states have average gas prices exceeding $5.00 per gallon — Michigan ($5.01), Utah, ($5.17), Idaho ($5.21), Arizona ($5.28), Illinois ($5.44), Washington ($5.48), Oregon ($5.49), Hawaii ($5.54), Nevada ($5.56), Alaska ($5.58) and California ($6.31).

Last week, President Joe Biden endorsed Congress enacting a three-month federal gas tax holiday in an effort to foster more summer travel.

The proposal, however, has failed to generate enthusiastic support from many members of Congress — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Biden also called on states to temporarily lift their respective gas taxes.

The Gallup survey sampled 1,015 U.S. adults June 1-20 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


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IMF Slashes US Growth Forecast, Sees ‘Narrowing Path’ to Avoid Recession


WASHINGTON—The International Monetary Fund on Friday slashed its U.S. economic growth forecast as aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate hikes cool demand but predicted that the United States would “narrowly” avoid a recession.

In an annual assessment of U.S. economic policies, the IMF said it now expects U.S. Gross Domestic Product to grow 2.9 percent in 2022, less than its most recent forecast of 3.7 percent in April.

For 2023, the IMF cut its U.S. growth forecast to 1.7 percent from 2.3 percent and it now expects growth to trough at 0.8 percent in 2024.

Last October, the IMF predicted 5.2 percent U.S. growth this year, but since then, new COVID-19 variants and stubborn supply chain disruptions have slowed recovery, while a sharp spike in fuel and food prices prompted by Ukraine’s war further stoked inflation to 40-year highs.

“We are conscious that there is a narrowing path to avoiding a recession in the U.S.,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told a news conference, noting that the outlook had a high degree of uncertainty.

“The economy continues to recover from the pandemic and important shocks are buffeting the economy from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and from lockdowns in China,” she said. “Further negative shocks would inevitably make the situation more difficult.”

If large enough, a shock could push the United States into a recession, but it would likely be short and shallow with a modest rise in unemployment, akin to the U.S. recession in 2001, said IMF Deputy Western Hemisphere Director Nigel Chalk. Strong U.S. savings would help support demand, he added.

Inflation Cutting “Pain”

Georgieva said price stability was important to protect U.S. incomes and sustain growth, but there may be “some pain” for consumers in achieving it.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity, at the Vatican on Feb. 5, 2020. (Remo Casilli/Reuters)

She said her discussions with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Fed Chair Jerome Powell “left no doubt as to their commitment to bring inflation back down.”

U.S. inflation by the Fed’s preferred measure is running at more than three times the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target.

Georgieva said the responsibility to restore low and stable inflation rests with the Fed, and that the fund views the U.S. central bank’s desire to quickly bring its benchmark overnight interest rate up to the 3.5 percent–4 percent level as “the correct policy to bring down inflation.” The Fed’s current policy rate ranges from 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent.

“We believe this policy path should create an upfront tightening of financial conditions which will quickly bring inflation back to target. We also support the Fed’s decision to reduce its balance sheet,” she said.

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

Reuters

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Crypto Winter is Here


Commentary 

It has been impossible to ignore crypto. From Bitcoin’s all-time high of $68,991.00 in November 2021 to the current price of $20,200.00 (as of 3:11pm June 22, 2022), the price volatility has only kept up the momentum of the cryptocurrency news cycle.

The consistent volatility has led to an onslaught of speculation, with some unfortunate investors even borrowing money to buy Bitcoins.

Last Monday, CNBC reported that “Celsius, a controversial cryptocurrency lending platform, said Monday it was pausing all withdrawals, causing more pain in the fragile crypto market. Celsius is one of the largest players in the nascent crypto lending space, with more than $8 billion lent out to clients and almost $12 billion in assets under management as of May. The group, which offers users higher-than-average interest rates on their deposits, is essentially the crypto equivalent of a bank—but without the strict insurance requirements faced by traditional lenders.”

However, there is no doubting the power of crypto’s legion of believers.

Last year a twentysomething intern in our office made a statement about “stocks not rising and falling as fast as crypto coins” and therefore he was not interested in “boring old stocks.”

This reminded me of the story about Joseph P. Kennedy (JFK’s father) who promptly liquidated his stock holdings—narrowly missing the stock market crash of 1929—after receiving financial tips from a man shining his shoes.

What About The Sponsorship?

From stadiums to race cars to sailing, crypto has been at every major sporting event and supported by countless marquee celebrities.

Last October Matt Damon famously appeared in an advertisement for Crypto.com that compared digital currency to the invention of aviation; he closed the advertisement with the saying: “Fortune Favors the Brave!”

Celebs aside, cryptocurrency firms have spent massive amounts of money on sponsorship deals: Crypto.com paid $700 million for the naming rights of LA’s arena; FTX paid $135 million for the naming rights of Miami’s arena and Tezos is paying tens of millions to place a patch on Manchester United’s jersey.

According to CNBC: “Crypto partnerships are now the second most lucrative sponsorship category for the NBA, behind only the technology category. Among the NBA’s crypto deals this season was a league agreement with crypto trading platform Coinbase. CNBC reported that the deal is worth $192 million over four years.”

What Is The Future Like?

Since November a number of well-known crypto billionaires have taken massive net worth write-downs; from Changpeng Zhao ($95.8B to $10.2B0; to Samuel Bankman-Fried ($15.1B to $8.9B); Brian Armstrong ($13.7B to $2.1B) and finally Mike Novogratz ($8.5B to $2.1B).

Bitcoin
A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin, picture illustration taken on Oct. 19, 2021. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Don’t worry, crypto will survive, it is just going through growing pains. Many crypto coins (especially the major coins) will prevail, but a large number of the ancillary businesses that flocked to crypto might not make it.

This should come as no surprise, especially with the well-publicized shadowy demise of Mt. Gox in 2014 (which handled 70 percent of global Bitcoin traffic before ceasing to exist) and the more recent demise of entrepreneur Do Kwon (founder of Terraform Labs, and coins TerraUSD and Luna).

NFTs

But what about non-fungible tokens (NFTs)?

Despite the doom and gloom of crypto coins NFTs are very much alive. With NFTs artists of all types can reach new audiences and sell their work without dealing with traditional middlemen like galleries, agents, or record labels; they merely need to use platforms like OpenSea, Mintable, and Magic Eden.

In the art world, NFTs are here to stay, there is little doubt about that.

NFT-oriented artists and activists have become stars themselves; take Kenny Schachter for instance. Before the NFT craze, he was a much-publicized art insider, art writer, and collector. Within a matter of months, he transformed into a bona fide contemporary artist and coined the word: NFTism. He even launched a celebrated NFT collection called CRYPTOMUTTS (full disclosure,  I own one).

cartoon image
An algorithmically-generated cartoon image of an ape, number 5809 in a set of 10,000 collectible non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called the Bored Ape Yacht Club, made by the U.S.-based company Yuga Labs, in this digital image, 2021. (Courtesy Sotheby’s/via Reuters)

In my opinion, the reason NFTs will prevail is because they embody the freewheeling and liberated spirit that was promised by the initial allure of cryptocurrency while giving most of the control to the creator. In many ways, it is a win-win scenario.

Recently Magic Eden, a primary and secondary NFT market, raised additional funding. As Maria Gracia Santillana Linares from Forbes Magazine reported: “The cofounders of Magic Eden, the top Solana-based NFT marketplace by market share, announced today the close of a $130 million Series B venture round. The added capital brings the company’s valuation up to $1.6 billion and is one of the first major investments to be announced since the recent crypto plunge that saw bitcoin fall below $20,000 and ether drop under $1,000.”

She continued: “Magic Eden now becomes the third NFT marketplace to achieve unicorn status alongside $13 billion OpenSea and $7 billion LooksRare. The funding was co-led by Electric Capital and Greylock and it comes three months after the company announced its $27 million Series A in March 2022.”

I am a fan of crypto coins and NFT tokens, however, there are a number of issues that need to be sorted out.

These issues will take time and they need a hybrid approach of continued private market support and a strong legal framework.

Yesterday Yahoo Finance reported that “the world’s largest bitcoin (BTC) spot exchange-traded fund lost half of its assets under management last Friday, which might have exacerbated bitcoin’s crash on Saturday.” Purpose Bitcoin ETF lost (through withdrawals) over 24,000 bitcoins last week.

Issues like this are what I am talking about; you don’t see this type of activity with most ETFs.

One thing is certain, due to the recent price crash I wouldn’t worry about a rush of government regulation coming forward. With every prospective crypto tax target taking massive writedowns, the allure of easy tax revenue has faded.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Chadwick Hagan

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Chadwick Hagan is a financier, entrepreneur, author and columnist. He has managed businesses and investments in global markets for two decades. As an author and writer he covers economics, fine art and conservation. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is based in Atlanta and London.



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Pelosi Declines Full Support of President Biden’s Gas Tax Holiday Proposal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declined to fully support President Joe Biden’s proposed gas tax holiday on Wednesday, saying the Democratic Party leadership would need time to gauge support for the initiative.

“We will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the President’s proposal in the House and the Senate, building on the strong bills to lower prices at the pump already passed by House Democrats including the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act and the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Some might interpret Pelosi’s response as lukewarm to the gas tax holiday, given her reputation for publicly supporting most of the White House’s proposals. 

Others might view it as a way of tempering expectations for an idea that sounds solid on paper, but might not yield a major impact at the pump.

A case in point: Earlier Wednesday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called the proposed reduction of 18 cents per gallon a “modest amount.”

Shortly thereafter, at the same media lectern, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the 18-cent-per-gallon reduction “is going to go a long way.”

And Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had a few questions about the structure of President Biden’s proposal.

“The challenge on the gas tax is: Is the savings really going to flow to the consumer? Or is it going to be pocketed by the oil companies?” Neal wondered. “Those are legitimate questions.”

Pelosi’s legislative references from earlier centered on a pair of bills designed to reduce  gasoline prices — one by curbing price gouging, and the other by promoting homegrown biofuels.

Both measures have passed in the House in recent weeks, but there might be a different result in the Senate.

Democratic leaders have previously considered gas tax holidays, including one proposal that Pelosi rejected outright in March.

“The [proposal] is very showbiz. ‘OK, let’s just do something, there it is.’ But it is not necessarily landing in the pocket of the consumer,” Pelosi said then.

While promoting his proposal Wednesday, Biden said the gas tax holiday would help struggling families through the summer travel season.

He urged Congress to suspend the federal tax, and also called on states to suspend their own fuel taxes, which average 26 cents per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute.  

Anticipating a pushback, Biden also pressed oil companies to pass the savings on to drivers.

“There’s no time now for profiteering,” Biden said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is skeptical that a gas tax holiday would be effective in the long term.

“What I’m not sure of is that, in fact, that will have the effect, the intended effect, in terms of the retail price — whether in fact it will save consumers money,” he said.

Hoyer also speculated on the gas tax holiday’s viability in the House chamber.

“I don’t know whether we have the votes,” Hoyer said, even though the Democrats control the House, Senate and the White House. “We haven’t counted.”


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Tech Firm Layoffs Surge in June, Increasing Recession Worries in US

Ninety-five tech companies have already announced workforce layoffs in June — the highest monthly tally in that sector for 2022, according to data from Trueup — suggesting that the U.S. economy might soon be on the verge of a recession.

Among the notable tech firms reducing their workforce:

Zumper, the largest privately owned rental platform in North America, announced last week it would lay off 15% of its workers. 

Two weeks earlier, the Elon Musk-backed Tesla — the world’s leading electric vehicle maker — revealed it would lay off 10% of its salaried workforce.

And last month, the real estate broker Redfin announced it would be shedding 470 employees, or roughly 6% to 8% of its workforce, after the company fell short of revenue expectations.

“I said we wouldn’t lay off people unless we had to,” Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, reportedly wrote in a company-wide email sent on June 14. “We have to.”

Each workforce reduction presumably brings seeds of doubt into the U.S. economy, with a growing number of business leaders and consumers bracing for a downturn in the coming months — if it hasn’t already occurred.

According to separate surveys conducted by the Conference Board and Country Financial, more than 60% of executives and 82% of consumers expect a recession by 2023.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has already intimated the struggling U.S. economy could be headed for a recession phase — to the chagrin of President Joe Biden.

“Nothing is certain and all economic forecasts have uncertainty,” Summers told NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday. “But my best guess is that a recession is ahead.”

“I base that on the fact that we have not had a situation like the present, with inflation above 4% unemployment below 4%, without a recession following within a year or two,” Summers added.

Which economic factors lead to a recession?

According to Forbes.com, a recession is a “significant decline in economic activity that lasts for months or even years. Experts declare a recession when a nation’s economy experiences negative gross domestic product (GDP), rising levels of unemployment, falling retail sales, and contracting measures of income and manufacturing for an extended period of time.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell went on the offensive this week, trying to reassure the public that a recession wasn’t imminent.

“We are not trying to induce a recession now. Let’s be clear about that,” Powell said in a press conference last week, after raising interest rates by 75 basis points (three-quarters of a percentage point).

“We at the Fed understand the hardship that inflation has caused,” Powell added. “We are strongly committed to bringing inflation back down, and we are moving expeditiously to do so.”

Meanwhile, American consumers and businesses remain concerned about rising costs and a worsening economic environment.

For last week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the median projection for real GDP growth in 2022 was reduced from 2.8% to 1.7%. 

Also, economists at the Federal Reserve forecast the national unemployment rate to reach 3.9% by 2023 — higher than the 3.6% average from the last three months.

Add in the 40-year inflation highs, record-high gasoline prices, higher food prices,and product shortages on grocery shelves, and things could get murky for the Democratic Party this fall.

Case in point: Last week, political analyst Frank Luntz went on CNBC to predict that U.S. consumers’ frustration with the Biden administration — and Democrats in general — would be reflected in the November midterm elections.

“Donald Trump misidentified the stock market as the aspect people related to when they decided whether things were good or bad,” Luntz said. “Joe Biden is misidentifying jobs.”

Luntz added, “Unless he gets this inflation under control where people are not exasperated, and unless he does something immediately, this is going to affect the midterms.”

And on Tuesday on Newsmax, while appearing on “The Record With Greta Van Susteren,” Austan Goolsbee, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said, “I don’t think it’s inevitable, but it’s certainly a risk.”


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Average Gas Price Dips Below $5 as July 4 Travel Blitz Nears

The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas dropped below $5 this weekend, according to AAA, which tracks average national gas prices.

One week ago, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas stood at $5.014 on average. That price dropped to $4.981 on Monday. GasBuddy, which also tracks gas prices, states that the price of a gallon of unleaded gas has stood at about $5 since June 11, having peaked at $5.016 according to AAA.

Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis for OPIS, which tracks gas prices, told CNN recently that the upcoming end of the school year and start of the summer travel season will likely cause gas prices to rise, possibly as much as $6 per gallon.

“Anything goes from June 20 to Labor Day,” Kloza said. “Come hell or high gas prices, people are going to take vacations.”

However, GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan recently wrote: “No one should be in a rush to fill their gas tank – prices in most areas of the U.S. will be coming down in the days and weeks ahead (things could shift, so stay tuned), but we could drop back to a national average of $4.75-$4.85/gal by July 4 if nothing changes!”


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Average Gas Price in U.S. Drops Below $5

The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas dropped below $5 this weekend, according to AAA, which tracks average national gas prices.

One week ago, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas stood at $5.014 on average. That price dropped to $4.981 on Monday. GasBuddy, which also tracks gas prices, states that the price of a gallon of unleaded gas has stood at about $5 since June 11, having peaked at $5.016 according to AAA.

Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis for OPIS, which tracks gas prices, told CNN recently that the upcoming end of the school year and start of the summer travel season will likely cause gas prices to rise, possible as much as $6 per gallon.

“Anything goes from June 20 to Labor Day,” Kloza said. “Come hell or high gas prices, people are going to take vacations.”

However, GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan recently wrote: “No one should be in a rush to fill their gas tank- prices in most areas of the US will be coming down in the days and weeks ahead (things could shift, so stay tuned), but we could drop back to a national average of $4.75-$4.85/gal by July 4 if nothing changes!.”


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Former Treasury Secretary Summers: My ‘Best Guess’ US Will Hit Recession Soon

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Sunday that it’s his “best guess” the United States will fall into a recession.

“Look, nothing is certain, and all economic forecasts have uncertainty. My best guess is that a recession is ahead,” Summers told host Chuck Todd during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Summers added, “I base that on the fact that we haven’t had a situation like the present with inflation above 4 percent and unemployment beyond 4 percent without a recession following within a year or two.”

On the NBC morning show, Summers also said it’s likely “that in order to do what’s necessary to stop inflation, the Fed is going to raise interest rates enough that the economy will slip into recession.

“And I think that view, which was not a common view a couple months ago, is now the view of a number of statistical models and the view of a range of forecasters and I think will increasingly become a consensus view,” Summers said.

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden fought back against the notion of a recession being imminent, while addressing the news of the Federal Reserve increasing national interest rates an extra three-quarters of a point.

“First of all, it’s not inevitable,” Biden said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Secondly, we’re in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.”

Also on Sunday, while serving as a guest on ABC’s “This Week,” current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she doesn’t believe a recession is “inevitable.”


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Treasury Secretary Yellen Claims Recession Not ‘Inevitable’

A recession in the United States is not “inevitable,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday, just days after the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates, raising fears of an economic contraction.

“I expect the economy to slow” as it transitions to stable growth, she told ABC’s “This Week,” but “I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable.”

The U.S. economy has recovered strongly from the damage wrought by COVID-19, but soaring inflation and supply chain snarls exacerbated by the war in Ukraine have increased pessimism.

Wall Street stocks tumbled after the U.S. central bank Wednesday raised the benchmark borrowing rate by 0.75 percentage points, the sharpest rise in nearly 30 years.

And economists see worrying signs that consumer confidence is weakening, with people beginning to hold off on vacation plans, dining out or doing home repairs.

Yellen conceded that “clearly inflation is unacceptably high,” attributing it partly to the war in Ukraine, which has pushed up energy and food prices.

But she said she did not believe that “a dropoff in consumer spending is the likely cause of a recession.”

Yellen argued the U.S. labor market is “arguably the strongest of the postwar period” and she predicted that the pace of inflation would slow in coming months.

She acknowledged, however, that as Fed chair Jerome Powell works to control inflation while preserving labor-market strength, “That’s going to take skill and luck.”

Soaring gas prices – at some $5 a gallon, they have roughly doubled in a few years – are a pressing concern for many Americans.

Asked about proposals for a temporary suspension in federal gas taxes, Yellen expressed openness.

President Joe Biden “wants to do anything he possibly can to help consumers,” she said. “And that’s an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”

As to whether Biden might move further to lower consumer prices by lifting tariffs on Chinese goods, Yellen demurred.

Reworking the Donald Trump-era tariffs “is something that’s under consideration,” she said.

“I don’t want to get ahead of where the policy process is.”



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